Sunday, 27 July 2014

back in the real world!

OK, I know I’ve been really quite lately, but this time I have a really good excuse!  I GOT A JOB!!!

Yes, really, a real, paying, 9 to 5 job.

Despite sending literally hundreds of applications off into the black hole of the internet, the job I ended up with I didn’t actually apply for.  In a roundabout sort of way I can sort of thank the Auckland Sewing collective for throwing me into the right path.  A couple of months ago we met up in a cafĂ© in Mount Albert one Sunday morning.  I arrived a few minutes early so went and ordered (and paid for incidentally) my coffee and while I was queuing at the cash register I spotted a vague acquaintance, sort of friend who I hadn’t seen for literally years.  We exchanged the usual greetings and I mentioned that I had been made redundant and was looking for work if he heard of anything (because I’d been job hunting for so long that I have no shame).  The coffee arrived and I went and found the other sewists and had a lovely get together.

I thought nothing more of the encounter until about two weeks later when I got a call from him.  He’d just had a resignation, she didn’t really want to work her notice and had only been there about a month so didn’t really have anything useful to handover.  He didn’t want to go through the whole advertising, hundreds of cv’s and interviewing again, so could I start on Monday?

So... I’m gainfully employed again!  

I can at long last wear the working wardrobe that I have been sewing for the last eleven months.   

It’s a fairly casual environment, so I started with black pants and a shirt that I made over Christmas.   

I decided to spend some time perfecting the classic shirt.  I drafted a basic shirt and got the fit right even over the bust, which is always an issue for me.  I had a white shirting with a self coloured stripe that I'd bought on line for $1.20 a metre.  I made a plain white shirt with it intending it to be a sort of wearble muslin, but I was happy withn the finished shirt:

I then decided that I wanted to replicate the shaping of this cardigan in a woven fabric and shirt type design.  starting from the pattern that I had perfected I put the stripe across the shirt rather than up and down and played with pleats into the button band:

It took a bit of fiddling to get it right and the pleats changed the direction of the stripes at the top half of the front, but it isn’t a bad effect, and like the stretch cardi that I made it is a great shape for the larger than B cup bust without an excessive amount of fabric floating round the waist.  

I even wore this jacket, which I wasn’t in love with when I made it, but actually doesn’t look too bad.

The job is very close to a railway station on the same line as where I live, so Im taking the train to work.  It’s a direct trip and I couldn’t drive it in time that the train takes.  I pour the last of the coffee into my travel mug …
Yes, I made my coffee mug an embroidered coat!
… as I leave for the station, and sit on the train with my ipod and knitting (yes I am that mad woman who knits on the train), and usually by the time I’ve finished my coffee the train is just arriving at work.  It’s a really civilised way to commute, which is also improving my knitting output!

The one down side of having a job is a lack of time to doing sewing related stuff.   

I was really interested in Project Indie and intended to put in one of my recent designs that I had drafted.  While drafting it in multiple sizes was quite simple, the process of digitising it required way more time and IT skills than I have.  I spent two weekends trying to figure out how to do it, and feeling guilty about doing anything else before it dawned on me that I was spoiling my weekends and not sewing stuff that I was interested in because I thought I “should” get a pattern entered.  What was I thinking? While it might have made sense when I had the time, I have a new job which I’m having to get to grips with.  I don’t have the IT skills, nor the brain space to learn at the moment.  All I was doing was spoiling my weekends feeling guilty about not being able to do it.  So I’ve let that one go.  I’m just not techie savvy enough.

In the meantime I’m enjoying being back at work and enjoying having more than 50c left at the end of the week.  I could even buy some more fabric!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ruffles and Tweed

A while ago I was given a box of fabric bits and pieces from a friend’s mother, who is now in her nineties and hasn’t sewn for years.   

As well as some lovely vintage prints she had started making herself a pair of trousers out of this wool.
It’s a heavy wool and almost a bit scratchy, but I love the tweedy look.  The lady is a lot smaller than me, so there was no way I was going to be able to simply complete the trousers for me, so I carefully unpicked the half made trousers and assessed the fabric that I was left with, with a view to making a skirt.

The pieces that I had weren’t wide enough to make a straight skirt, so I had to be a bit more creative.  The back was a simple fix – I put a curved godet in the centre back seam, drafted from my skirt block using the same technique that I used here.

Although it is a very subtle effect, I also added a little embroidery to the two back panels – just because I can!

At this point I stalled slightly, while I figured out what to do with the gap in the front.  Eventually I added a panel to the front lining and attached layer upon layer of stone coloured chiffon ruffles from the $1 stash.  It sort of looks as though I’ve vomited chiffon down the front of the skirt.  

Or maybe it’s just a cute play on the hard and soft of the tweed and the ruffles?

Here’s my dilemma:  When my daughter was living at home she would sometimes come home from school, look at my current project on the dummy and yell “STOP! Move away from the fabric Mum.”  This was her sign that I had gone, or was about to go, over the top.  With no resident daughter to rein me in I wonder whether I’ve gone too far with the ruffles and embroidery here?

What do you think? 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A green evolution

Me:  Dear internet, I have sinned.  It has been a whole month since my last blog post. 
Internet: We’d hardly noticed, and anyway, you’ve probably got a really good excuse, like, you got a job!
Me: Well no, I still haven’t got a job.
Internet: Well sometimes life gets in the way and you just don’t have any sewing projects to show us?
Me: I have twenty-seven finish garments that I haven’t blogged about, nineteen of which I have sewed in the last month.
Internet: So what’s the problem?  Why no posts?
Me: I’m not sure. 
Internet:  Well you’re here now, so get on with it.

OK, I decided that I needed a new suit but this post covers several garments that evolved out of the suit that sort of go together, so I guess you could call it a collection.

As is frequently the case with me, this collection started with the fabric; a textured bottle green of unknown origin (more cheap fabric off trade me).   

I’m not sure what appealed to me about this fabric, since I have no other bottle green in my wardrobe, probably because my high school uniform was bottle green, so I have an irrational prejudice against the colour.  I can only assume I had a momentary flash of clarity that suggested that thirty years was long enough to hold a grudge against the colour.

Anyhow, I bought the fabric and from the moment that it arrived in the post it said “trouser suit”.  At least it said “suit”, but the soft handle spoke of an elegant trouser suit.    

I do like smart trousers, but the only appearance in my wardrobe at the moment is a pair of black pants, so the green pants came first.
I used my pant block, and didn’t add any additional features like pockets and stuff.  I love pockets in trousers, and I always use them.  In fact I use them so much that I typically stretch the fabric at my hips so that I get additional saddle bags with only a few months of wear.  The reason that I still have the black pants in my wardrobe is that they have no pockets, so I haven’t pulled them out of shape.   

Learning from the black pants, these trousers have no pockets, so I can’t over stuff them out of shape.

I first used them to go out to dinner to a friend whose garden backs onto a slow running river.  It’s so slow running that it’s more a sort of mobile lake, and there are always insects around her place.  Since the local mosquito population rings the dinner bell when I expose flesh at her place, I decided that smart pant were the way to go.

Unfortunately, since I have no other bottle green in my wardrobe, I didn’t have anything to wear with it, so I resurrected Project 40, from my 2013 sewing list, a white flowered sleeveless blouse.  The flowers on this fabric have bottle green leaves, so I dusted off an old Burda pattern (which I drafted before I had so many Burda patterns that I have to label them properly, so I can’t tell you which one)  Allowing for a little extra weight since I drafted it, it came together easily.   

In retrospect I should’ve checked the fit before I started as it came out rather loose, and although I added bra cups it didn’t offer any support, and a bra wasn’t an option.   
While this might not have bothered me twenty years ago, it bothers me now, so I ended up taking it in.  The end result is that it looks rather snug, but at least I didn’t fall out of it.

At this point progress sort of stalled, until I was called to an interview for a job that I knew was going to require a fair amount of mobility, so I decided I needed a pant suit for the occasion.

Although I have numerous TNT  jacket patterns I had fallen in love with this one from Burda April 2013.
I wanted something a little softer than a classic tailored jacket, and I felt that this would go with the trousers.

I really enjoyed this project.  It came together really easily (As usual I didn’t actually ready Burda’s instructions so I can’t comment on them) and I like the softer feel of this jacket.   

To lift it out of the ordinary I added a paua shell lining, and I love it, even though I’m the only person to see it.
(Since the top I made to go with the trousers wasn’t office appropriate, I paired the suit with a plain white blouse for the interview.)

A few weeks ago I was sorting through my stash, and I came across a green drill labelled “Project 41” in a bag with a zip and waistband interfacing.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I had no idea what I had intended to do with this fabric, but I must have had a plan, since it had made it to my 2013 plans, if not the sewing machine.

I’m sure you can imagine my horror when I discovered that project was a pair of tailored green pants.  I had bought fabric when I didn’t need it!  Rather than admit this sin to the world at large, I decided that I had to destroy the evidence immediately and get this fabric out of my stash.  I also wanted to demonstrate how I put a lined dress together so this bottle green fabric became a lined dress.

I used my TNT princess line dress
… and remembered to document how I put the lining and dress together.
The dress works rather well with the jacket from the trouser suit.

So there I have a few more work outfits for that dream job.  Now all I need is the dream job!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Sewing double... or triple

The Monthly Stitch challenge for April is "sewing double".  The exact interpetation of this wa left pretty open, so my first interpretation is sewing my version of a ready to wear, and sewing two garments from the same pattern:
I saw this T-shirt, over-priced, in Farmers.

I had a go and drafting a copy and came up with a more-or-less wearable muslin.

The embroidery is misplaced and not properly interfaced, but I was happy that the pattern incorporated all the features that I loved about the Farmers’ version.

I had plenty of black knit from the $1 stash, but didn’t have anything for the feature print.  I found a stretch mesh.  It has a suitable pattern, but it is see through.  I faced the first version, but I lined the next one with a lightweight black knit, which solve the see-through problem, and meant that I didn’t need facing. Other than that, I made it the same as the wearable muslin.

I think that this is reasonable copy of the Farmers’ T and I can see it working well with black or grey in a professional environment, and the muslin makes a flattering casual top.